The reach of podcaster Barstool Sports into sports gaming continues to grow as Penn National Gaming – the casino company that bought Barstool last year for $161.2 million – has struck a $2 billion deal to buy Toronto-based Score Media & Gaming. The acquisition gives it theScore app which, similar to Barstool, offers a mix of sports news, scores and increasingly, gaming information. Penn National CEO Jay Snowden said theScore would become a “powerful complement to the reach of Barstool Sports and its popular personalities and content.”
That is especially true in the Canadian market where theScore is the number one sports app. It is also the third most popular sports app in all of North America. “We are now uniquely positioned to seamlessly serve our customers with the most powerful ecosystem of sports, gaming and media in North America, ultimately creating a community that doesn’t currently exist,” said Snowden. He said it will also allow Penn National to broaden its product offerings, and deliver better margins to investors.
Barstool founder Dave Portnoy said he has been a user of theScore and has long hoped to strike a deal. He and Barstool CEO Erika Nardini met with Score Media CEO John Levy in 2018 after the Supreme Court struck down laws limiting sports betting and prior to Penn National’s acquisition of Barstool.
“We didn’t have the resources at the time to pull it off,” said Portnoy. He told analysts during a conference call that he sees it as the continuing convergence of media and sports gambling. “I think it's so synergistic with what they do and what we do – which is controlling the media and having the entire ecosystem where people get scores, they get info, and they can also place the wager. It just fits so perfectly,” said Portnoy. Barstool and theScore had already been strategic partners since 2019.
The sports gaming industry has been one of the biggest growth stories of the past two years and Levy said that he thinks now is the right time for theScore to join with Penn National and use its resources and scale to accelerate their business.
“We look forward to collaborating with Dave, Erika and the Barstool team as we leverage our unique brands, large audience and respective approaches to serving sports fan,” said Levy on a conference call.
Penn National said it will operate theScore as a stand-alone business, much like it has with Barstool. It will lead with the Barstool brand in the U.S. and with theScore in Canada.
Live Sports Next?
Barstool has built its brand on digital content including on-demand audio. But it reportedly is in talks to add live baseball play-by-play. The New York Post says Barstool has had “significant negotiations” with Major League Baseball about airing midweek games. Portnoy reportedly hinted at the talks during a podcast last week. The play-by-play would likely be video, not audio, with a heavy focus on sports betting.
Neither side is commenting for now, and sources told the Post that there is a “50-50” chance a deal will get done.
Penn National Revenue Grows
The addition of Barstool Sports continues to help improve Penn National’s earnings. So too does the reopening of America. The company reported second quarter revenue of $1.55 billion, while its earnings totaled $198 million compared to a loss a year earlier.
Penn National does not release Barstool-specific revenue, but the unit that includes the media company reported $97.7 million in revenue during the quarter. Snowden said Barstool “has continued to show tremendous growth this year both financially and in terms of audience metrics.”
Under the terms of its Feb. 2020 deal, Penn National currently owns a 36% stake in Barstool Sports. Within three years it will increase its ownership to 50% by purchasing $62 million worth of additional shares of Barstool according to regulatory filings. That put the valuation of Barstool as of Feb. 2020 at $450 million.